Technology

Windows Through Time

comps

By Genevieve Chan

With the recent release of Windows 8, Microsoft has brought Windows users another revamp. But operating systems have not always had sleek icons, speedy performance and reliable operation — in fact, many of us can probably remember the rectangular, grey taskbars and dull fonts of the older operating systems.

In just under two decades, computer operating systems have come a long way, whether in regards to features, speed, aesthetics, reliability, networking or support.

So in honour of the release of Windows 8, let’s take a look back at some Microsoft OS milestones over the past seventeen years.

Windows 95

At the time of its release, Windows 95 was a huge step forward in the PC world in terms of efficiency, smooth performance, customizable graphics …

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Exclusive Inspiration

By Marcin Mazur Rusak

Stepping into the Human Media Lab on the top floor of Jackson Hall is a surreal experience.  Conceptualized by acclaimed designer Karim Rashid the space stands in stark contrast to traditional University facilities.  The offices and carrels have white desk chairs, which look like set pieces from a science fiction movie set, and the windows and tables themselves are incongruous shapes.  The ceiling is wired with kilometres of cables to facilitate sensors and projectors wherever they are needed.

The aesthetic of the space, however, is triumphed by the research and development taking place.  The Human Media Lab is working on a revolution which elevates computer technology to a whole new level.

Think of it this way; gadgets like a Smartphone or a laptop are devices which we manipulate to suit our needs, but what Dr. Roel Vertegaal and his team are working on is abolishing this idea of computers as technology.  Rather, they will function intuitively in the same way as a chair or piece of cutlery, perfectly befitting their purpose.

Vertegaal’s office features a wall of several generations ….

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Reset Your Brain

By Ralph Yeung

Within the past few years, Queen’s has been made keenly aware of the importance of mental health. So much so, in fact, that Principal Woolf spearheaded the formation of a committee, which earlier this year outlined strategies the school will take to promote mental health.

These initiatives are not without their hurdles. I once had a conversation with a psychiatrist who described relapse of mental illness as one of the more frustrating, but expected, aspects of her work. Patients often slip into negative thought patterns, and then keep using such patterns to process new information. This leads to patients continuously perceiving situations in a negative light.

Psychotherapy aims to disrupt this habit, often by helping an individual recognize these patterns and consciously interrupting such thoughts when they happen.

This technique works because the brain is plastic, as many neuroscientists …

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Printing with Plastic

By Ralph Yeung

From applications that alert people that you’re running late to Bluetooth activated coffee machines, one trend in technology is increasingly clear: people want customizable technologies that fill very particular niches in their needs and wants. There’s one problem: specificity is hard to mass produce, and custom craftwork is never cheap. The price tag of such uniqueness easily becomes overwhelming for any developer or consumer.

Which is why people have decided to print them instead.

In the past year or two, the technology behind 3D printing has really come into the spotlight. The idea is simple: digital blueprints are made via a computer program, the digital prints are sent to a printer, and immediately layer upon layer of polymeric material is printed out until a full, 3D object is created …

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On the Cusp of a Learning Curve

By Marcin Rusak

Learning is integral to the advancement of humanity and the method by which we parse and acquire information is evolving rapidly.  The blended learning model – a format which combines digital or virtual resources with tangible interaction – is changing how we traverse the complex environment of the natural world.

Although the virtual lecture is relatively new at Queen’s University, initiated with high enrollment in introductory courses in 2011, it has been in practice across North America for much longer. Courses such as first-year psychology, geography and sociology are currently offered in this format. One can imagine why the model is attractive to post-secondary institutions as a useful tool to enhance student participation and accommodate different learning styles. It also facilitates distraction and cost saving for university administration. The challenge of blended learning is …

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Curious?

The landscape of Mars is framed with Curiosity’s next target — she will drive up the mountainous ridge of Gale Crater.
(Sources: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

By Catherine Owsik

At 1:30 a.m. on a crisp August morning, a rover named Curiosity successfully landed 567 million kilometers away from Earth on our red neighbour Mars.  The feat was impressive, during the live telecast of the landing scientists were quoting that statistically she had a one-in-three chance of making it in one piece. But she did it, and it only took her eight and a half months to get there.

The vast amount of technology crammed into Curiosity’s one-ton frame is quite impressive — in total she costs about $2.5 billion. This makes her one of the most well equipped rovers to date. Once everything is set into action, Curiosity will collect and analyze samples of Mars’ surface to determine if organisms could ever survive on the hostile planet …

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